IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – Attorneys defending Iowa prison officials against a female guard’s lawsuit acknowledge a warden ordered her to stop shutting off movies with sexual content viewed by inmates, but they deny her claims of retaliation and discrimination.
The Iowa Attorney General’s Office on Monday released its response to a lawsuit filed Nov. 30 by Kristine Sink, a correctional officer at the maximum-security Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison.
Sink’s lawsuit describes how she had complained since her hiring in 2003 about the practice of allowing a unit that included mentally-ill sex offenders and murderers to watch programs with graphic violence and sex. She says her superiors dismissed repeated complaints about the movies, which aroused inmates and made them hostile toward her. The lawsuit claims they retaliated against Sink for complaining and failed to protect her from inmates who threatened her when sexually-explicit movies were ultimately removed in 2011.
The state’s response, filed Thursday by Deputy Attorney General Jeff Thompson, denies Sink’s claims of sexual harassment, retaliation and gender discrimination. But it acknowledges she repeatedly complained about the types of movies shown to inmates during her employment and that Warden Nick Ludwick ordered her in September 2011 to “discontinue shutting off movies that have been screened and deemed appropriate for viewing.”
Sink says the warden’s order came in response to her complaints about the showing of the Showtime series, “Californication,” which includes sexual content. She says episodes of the show played multiple times a day for about three weeks in a common area where dozens of inmates could watch.
Sink says prison officials finally pulled the show after her “persistent badgering.” But she says inmates were immediately allowed to watch “Delta Venus,” an erotic movie that includes sexually graphic scenes. She says she complained to superiors and had them use a security camera to zoom in on the sexual content on the television but was warned not to turn the channel or shut off the TV.
Sink says she changed the channel anyway, arguing that unit rules give officers the discretion to control the television. Sink says she was put under investigation for insubordination and later discovered a disciplinary letter in her file, which has since been removed. During both “Californication” and “Delta Venus,” inmates openly masturbated in front of Sink and made harassing comments, her lawsuit claims.
“To a sex offender that is a sex addict and a violent sexual predator, these movies bring back these behaviors that we’re trying to curb. And then I’m being subjected as the target because I’m the female on duty,” Sink said in an interview last month.
The state’s response acknowledges that Ludwick, on Sept. 27, 2011, suspended all movies that were R-rated due to their sexual content from being shown. Sink says that action infuriated inmates, who responded by blaming her, calling her names and even making threats toward her life. The state admitted that Sink filed complaints in November 2011 about an inmate who repeatedly yelled threats at her through his cell.
Worried about her safety, Sink says that she sought a job without inmate contact for more than a year without success. The prison agreed that Sink should no longer escort inmates off the unit and offered her a job at a medium-security unit. Sink says she rejected the transfer because the unit wasn’t safer and inmates there were also angry they’d lost their sexually-explicit movies. Last month, shortly after she filed her lawsuit, prison officials transferred Sink to a desk job away from inmates.
Department of Corrections spokesman Fred Scaletta confirmed Sink’s change of assignment. He said it was due to a “non-discipline personnel matter” but that he could not elaborate.
Records show Sink had filed a formal complaint about violence in the workplace in 2007 after the showing of a movie that included a scene in which a woman was beaten, raped and murdered. The warden at the time, John Ault, responded by blaming Sink her for “putting yourself out there” by complaining and soon dismissed her complaint.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food